Totally worth the wait!

Mark Ronson protege Daniel Merriweather's first LP, Love & War, is already a proven smash across the pond (it hit No. 2 and went platinum in the UK) -- but its U.S. release was mysteriously delayed several times.

Thankfully, I've heard the goods from Merriweather -- who played a rousing packed-to-the-rafters gig at NYC's Gramercy Theatre on Tuesday night -- and it's already one of my favorite new releases of the year. The disc includes a retro soul-infused setlist that holds up against (and even beats in many parts) Ronson's "Stop Me," for which Merriweather lent his vocals.

But don't take my word for it: The 27-year-old Australian had a rare spare moment while wandering around NYC on January 11 to pop in and tell me all about his surging global success and give me a special update on his pal and fellow Ronson cohort, Amy Winehouse. Check out our chat above.